- Rivastigmine patches – a newly funded treatment for dementia
- Brand changes for a number of antipsychotic medicines
A new formulation of treatment for dementia, rivastigmine patches, became funded from 1 November 2014. One treatment is already funded specifically for dementia, donepezil, which is a tablet patients swallow. Rivastigmine is in the same class of treatments as donepezil but the patches deliver the medicine through a patch that sticks on the skin, so it provides a different route of administration for people who experience gastrointestinal side effects from swallowing donepezil pills.
In PHARMAC’s clinical advisors’ view, if people have trouble tolerating the gastrointestinal side effects donepezil tablets, they would likely have similar trouble taking other oral Alzheimer’s treatments, so a patch would be a useful treatment alternative.
PHARMAC estimates that about 1400 people will use rivastigmine patches over five years.
A number of antipsychotic medicines changed to sole subsidised supply during the year. This means that instead of having several funded brands of the same medicine, there is only one funded brand for each medicine. The medicines that changed to sole subsidised supply were olanzapine tablets, olanzapine orodispersible tablets, quetiapine tablets and risperidone oral liquid. PHARMAC consulted publicly and received a wide range of clinical advice before making these changes. These changes are expected to save approximately $10 million over the sole supply periods (to 30 June 2017). These savings can be used to fund other medicines.
PHARMAC has a role in ensuring the responsible use of medicines. On a regular basis, PHARMAC provides information on medicine usage to the Mental Health Subcommittee of PTAC, a clinical advisory committee made up of doctors specialising in treating mental health disorders. The data provided to the Subcommittee shows the pattern of antidepressant and antipsychotic prescribing.
As part of its role, PHARMAC contracts with a third party to distribute medicine information to doctors via a hard copy journal publication and online resources. The information is on the best practice in healthcare treatments, and focuses on appropriate circumstances for diagnosing and prescribing. Reports of individual prescriber behaviour against sector norms are also available.
Last updated: 10 December 2015